The Nativity of Our Lord
What gifts am I offering Jesus this Christmas?
Christmas is a time we show our love and care for each other through gifts. While we offer gifts to each other, have we ever stopped and think: What gifts do I offer Jesus at Christmas? After all, it is His birthday!
In the Gospel account by Matthew, we hear how wise men from the east came and offered gifts to our infant Lord (Mt 12:11). Traditionally, we believe there were three wise men. We even have names for them – Melchior, Gaspar and Balthazar. Were there really three wise men? We are not sure. The Biblical account did not mention how many wise men there were, but only that there were “wise men” (Mt 2:1,7). The wise men offered three gifts to our infant Lord – gold, frankincense and myrrh. It is possibly because that there were three gifts that traditions inferred that there were three wise men.
In truth, how many wise men there were is not important. What is important are the gifts. These gifts are highly significant as they embodied Christ’s identity and mission:
- Gold, the king of metal, signifies Christ’s Kingship.
- Frankincense are incense used in religious worship and hence signifies Christ’s Divinity.
- Myrrh is a spice used for embalmment of dead bodies. It is an odd gift to mark the birth of a baby; but carries great significance in this case as it signifies Christ’s Passion, i.e. His suffering and death.
So, my brothers and sisters, let us ask ourselves: What gifts do I offer Jesus this Christmas? Just like the wise men, I believe we too should offer our gold, frankincense and myrrh to Jesus this Christmas. Allow me to explain.
Firstly, what is our gold? Our gold are our achievements and victories. Our achievements and victories are blessings from God. We must not be so proud as to attribute all our successes to our own intelligence and ingenuity. In truth, the opportunities we have in our life are blessings from God. Even our intelligence and ingenuity are the design of God. Christmas is a time for us to reflect on how blessed we are. In offering to God our achievements and victories, we are in fact offering our thanksgiving to Jesus.
Secondly, what is our frankincense? Many religions, including Christianity, use incense for worship. As the smoke of the incense rises up to heaven, it signifies our prayers reaching up to God in heaven. Hence, our frankincense are our praise and worship. We recognise God as the Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier, all glory belongs to Him. In offer Jesus our frankincense, we are offering Him our adoration.
Finally, what is our myrrh? As mentioned, myrrh is a spice used to prepare the dead body. It is a very strange gift to offer to a baby indeed! So, what is our myrrh? Our myrrh are our sorrows, our hurt and our sins. For many of us, this is the hardest gift to offer Jesus. Many of us like to believe that we are in control; we do not like show our weaknesses, not even to God. Many of us are also proud people; we do not like to reveal our sorrows, hurts and failures. However, probably far more than offering our gold and frankincense, we will benefit most in offering all our pains to God. Many of us live in hurt, we are shameful of the wrong things we have done and we are not able to face up to it. So we wear masks. We sweep the hurt under the carpet and pretend it is not there. But from inside us, it eats us away. Hence, in offering our myrrh to Jesus, we seek healing. And just like the Samaritan woman (Jn 4:4-42) who could not face her town folks due to her shame, Jesus will heal us. But before He can do that, we have to be honest with ourselves and with Him. Let us come to Him, and acknowledge our sorrows, hurts and failures.
St Jerome was a 4th Century Saint who gave up power and comfort to follow Jesus. One Christmas night, Jerome was in Bethlehem reflecting on the birth of Jesus. Suddenly. Jesus appeared before Jerome and ask,
“Jerome, what will you give me for my birthday?”
“Lord, I give you my heart.”
“Yes, but give me something more.”
“Lord, I give you all the prayers and affection of my heart.”
“Jerome, there’s something more that you can offer Me.”
“Oh Lord, you know that for you, I left everything: The Palace of the Emperor, the greatness of Rome, comfort. My heart, my thoughts, everything! What else can I offer you?”
Jesus replied, “Jerome, give me all your sins.”
My dearest brothers and sisters, let us open our heart this Christmas and let Jesus touch us. I wish you a truly joyous and blessed Christmas. Emmanuel.